Aesthetics, functionality and attention to the user, are the things to keep in mind the designer of an interface unit for automation systems.

Juan Tamayo *


My experience in the development of audiovisual or related projects is almost eight years, in which my first job was to design interactive games for a science and technology museum. In this work, development evaluations are very strict because children express what they feel in a natural way, without hiding and do not expect to hurt the designer.

During this time as an AV professional I have observed very complex designs, where amazing engineering techniques are seen, but generally the designer forgets something: who operates the audio visual control system is not an engineer, and possibly knows little about technological advances.

The design of graphical interfaces, known as GUI (of its abbreviations in English Graphic Unit Interface) requires to have some clear concepts, remember, the audio visual systems are not evaluated according to the quality or importance of the brand, it is evaluated according to the solution of answers in specific needs.

In order to develop a good GUI, the designer must forget that he is an AV expert, it is complex, but it is the best way to have an empathy with the person or group of people who are going to operate the GUI. Evaluate what kind of people they are. It is not the same to design for a group of people with ages between 50 - 60 years, that to design a GUI for a system in a school or school where the students are between the 12 - 17 years. The level of technology learning is faster at young ages.

I designed a system for an apartment where all kinds of AV elements existed. When I interviewed the owner in a very simple chat with him, I discovered that the person who interacts most with the GUI is the employee of the service, because she needs to raise and lower the electric curtains to do the cleaning. So our design team made a special menu for her. It is important to interview or know who will interact with the systems.

One of the big mistakes is trying to store all the buttons or buttons on the remote control in a graphical interface, for example, a conference room is automated for video conference, and the projection monitor is a television. Do not include all the keys of the remote control in the GUI, program the necessary ones, turn on / off, input, volume. Do not program the number keys because you will not need them. A simpler and easier to manage control system will leave a greater satisfaction to your final customer.

Avoid using templates, or if you are going to use them, try to adjust them to the need of the solution. I recently visited a friend who opened his apartment and asked me to please review the automation system because he did not know about it. When I clicked the first button, it did nothing; to the second, either. So I asked the programmer what's wrong with this? and he replied, they are disabled. If you do not need those buttons, please erase them because they generate confusion.



Which is better, that is aesthetic or that is functional? That is the big question that every GUI designer should do or have done. Well, as engineers we never study theories of color, or theories of form, the great answer is a system must be aesthetic and functional.

The lack of any of these two qualities can cause it to fail. For example, a company invests four thousand dollars in its automation system, but the GUI is ugly, without colors, the square buttons. Anyway, it's ugly. The client's reaction is "buy something expensive to make it ugly."

Or otherwise, the GUI is extremely aesthetic, very nice, but the buttons do not work, the volume level acts in reverse. An interesting design tip has to do with symmetry, the human being within its psychology sees symmetric objects more "pretty" than asymmetric objects, so when you are making the design sketch for your next GUI, try to locate the elements symmetrically in the space, so you can generate a beauty perception of your GUI and achieve a higher level of satisfaction of the final customer.

The striking colors, or a bad selection of color, can generate negative effects in the perception of the programming, the color plays a great role in the psychology of the human being. Design a red button to perform an action implies that if the person is going to press is going to stop for a few seconds to evaluate this option, if it is an emergency system or off, there is no problem, but if the button is to see a movie at home will generate confusion. Corporate images are very important for companies, is the presentation of each of them. Design your GUI using these manuals, I guarantee that your client will be satisfied.

Size does matter in the design of a GUI, this is an error that can be observed very easily in the development of graphic panels for mobile phone and tablet applications, an application designed for a tablet and taken to a mobile phone with a simple Resizing image size makes a normal size push button for the tablet to become a tiny push button for a mobile phone.

By having small buttons (very small) makes the person to make mistakes in the activation of sequences or simple commands, generating as a frustration effect with the AV system, where the user ends up discarding it and sending it to the drawer of oblivion.

I hope these tips are practical for designing graphical GUI interfaces. Remember, design according to the user and their needs, make designs that are aesthetic and functional, select the colors very well, try to use the corporate image of the company and take into account the size of the objects that will be implemented. And, most importantly, the brand is not the one that makes a system well programmed, the one that does the work is the programmer.


Juan Tamayo is a commercial executive of new technologies and International Sales of Intelligent Environments SAS / Almacenes La Cita AV.

Author: Latin Press

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